Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Paying it Forward

I received a bonus right-after-Christmas gift:  I won the book Talking to Girls About Duran Duran by Rob Sheffield in a blog giveaway from Lisa Romeo Writes.

This was the perfect book to read during a vacation--light and amusing.  I couldn't put it down and stayed up way too late on at least two nights reading it.  I liked it because:  

a) I'm an 80s music kind of gal t[he 80s was the only time in my life I was even remotely dialed in to pop culture (I wrote my 7th grade music term paper about Duran Duran)--I have been hopelessly out of touch since 1991; it took at least four seasons before C and I even discovered the TV show Friends (though once we did we referred to it as "Our Friends" since we had none)] and I haven't heard music by a human being who is currently alive and not geriatric in I-don't-know-how-long), but I knew the artists and songs Sheffield referred to at least 80% of the time.

b) It shatters the myth (which I believe is promoted by published authors who don't want any irritating competition) that in order to write creative nonfiction you have to have lived either a tragic and/or exciting life (preferably both).  Sheffield spent the greater part of a decade holed up in his room listening to Top 40 radio (he actually remembers the call numbers and specialities of multiple radio stations from that era in his home town), yet he has managed to produce an engaging, if somewhat frivolous read.  There are at least three occasions when he touches on a subject that warrants the much deeper introspection and reflection of a serious memoir (the death of his first wife, his experience living with his aged grandfather and his intense religiousness), but he merely brushes by, which was somewhat frustrating for me as a reader--I wanted to know more about all of these subjects, but they were clearly not the focus of this collection of essays about 80s pop music as it related to his life at the time.

c) It gave me some insight into the mind of the teenage boy--I need all the insight I can get before my three boys turn double-digits.  In fact, Sheffield seems like the kind of boy I'd like mine to be in their teens--celibate and nerdy (when he finds himself alone in a car with a girl he starts talking about the Latin roots of words she says--I can totally picture M doing this)--minus his holed-up-with-Morrissey stage.

After reading this book, I was inspired to dig out my old cassette tapes and introduce M to New Wave.  He response was basically "when will this be over so I can go back to listening to the Beatles?"  And it left me feeling kind of melancholy and depressed for some reason.

I'm going to send the book to my sister, who may be the only person on earth who knows (or cares) as much about 80s music as Sheffield (though I'm pretty sure she'll disagree with him about...pretty much everything).

BUT, this book reminded me that I had won an earlier giveaway from Lisa Romeo which I neglected to mention.  Several months ago I received Cars from a Marriage by Debra Gallant.  This was also a fun, engaging read.  While I don't remember too many of the details, it's a novel whose sections revolve around the cars driven by a couple throughout their marriage.  Each chapter alternates between the wife--who is mousy and terrified to drive (though they live in New Jersey, which is apparently the wrong place to live if you don't drive) and the husband whose personality I don't remember all that well, although I do remember liking him well enough to kind of hope that his wife (who I also liked as a character) would not find out about the terrible indiscretion around which the climax of the book revolves.

I want to give away this once-read (and probably somewhat dusty) book away to a reader (both as part of my decluttering efforts and to spread the wealth a bit).  Please leave a comment here telling me what you're reading these days before Midnight EST Wednesday January 12 (please include your email address or some way of contacting you--Blogger does not share your email address with me) for your chance to win.  Also, if you're a writer, or an aspiring writer, or you thing you might like to write someday maybe, do go and check out Lisa Romeo's blog--it's always full of useful advice and tips and she even offers classes, which though I haven't taken one yet, sound great (plus she gives away books on a regular basis).

Edited:  I just realized I didn't do a very good job describing Cars from a's just not very fresh in my mind after many months, but rest assured, it is good and I enjoyed reading it.


  1. What am I reading? Nothing in particular currently...I was going to go to the library last week but I never found the time. I read (sadly) Entertainment Mag because I own a Video Shop & so I must. The most regular thing I read are blogs. I am looking for a good book though so I hope I win!

  2. I just checked out and began Pegasus by Robin McKinley, which I had been lusting after and was thrilled to find at the library. I adore robin McKinley's novels (especially Sunshine), usually until around the end - they always seem to end very similarly and so far I have only found her signature woo-woo ending really appropriate for Chalice, which I also loved.

  3. i finished simplicity parenting whilst baby-mooning. reminding me that i too need to lead by example...starting with the "craft" room. ahem. now i got nothing. just reading whatever's closest!

  4. Thanks for the tip on the Duran Duran book. I have a friend who would love that. You know, one of those 80's music freaks. (:

    I don't read much myself these days. The local newspaper and The New Yorker mag on good days.

  5. I loved that book (talking to girls about duran duran). I inter-library loaned his other book "Love is a mixed tape" about the death of his first wife.

    Right now I am reading Girl with the Dragon tattoo. Loving it!

  6. Oh, that top book sounds very good. I'd like to find that one at the library.

    Thanks for the giveaway. I'm happy for the book recs because it seems like I never know what fiction books to read. I'm really out of the loop on that. What I'm reading now: Radical Homemakers. It's interesting. I'm taking it in smallish chunks. It's somewhat academic. It's inspiring me to think outside the consumeristic box that mainstream culture would have us stuck in forever.


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